Like Clockwork: Mastering Time Management in College
In the English language, we have a wide variety of sayings that have to do with time:
“Time flies when you’re having fun!”
“Beat the clock.”
“Time just slipped away.”
And the list could easily go on and on.
If you have ever wondered why we have so many expressions related to the concept of time, I think I have the answer for you: time is integral to every part of our lives. If you think about it, time is something we can never get back. How we spend our time is a reflection of what we need or what matters most to us.
What we do with time says a lot about who we are as people and as students. At TCTC, we get it. Life happens. We get busy. Commitments call us in a multitude of different directions. After all, we are more than just students. We are siblings, kids, parents, relatives, friends, spouses, employees, and so much more.
But we are still students. And as students, we have a responsibility to current and future selves to start, continue, and finish strong. It’s only right that we do not deny ourselves a quality education just because school and studying can get inconvenient at times.
One of the most difficult aspects about being a student (and so much more!) is learning how to manage our time well. While everyone’s lives and unique needs may look different, I believe we can all benefit from applying some simple principles to our habits as students. It may take days, weeks, or even months to form a new, productive habit, but I promise you, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
- Make a Plan: Benjamin Franklin once stated, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Whether you are taking one course or five courses, your success is dependent upon you making a plan that works for you. You know yourself and your work habits better than anyone else, so it’s important that you are honest and realistic about the plans you make. If you know that you work forty hours a week, studying five hours each night probably is not a goal you can stick to long-term. Remember to set goals and plan that are SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).
- Identify Time-Wasters: If you are tempted to look at social media every time you pick up your phone, keep it out of sight while you are studying. There is nothing wrong with integrating well-deserved breaks, but be sure to time your breaks and make sure that the time you spend working is balanced. Also, it’s very easy to believe the lie of “Just one more episode.” We’ve all been there. While you’re studying, limit your access to streaming platforms whether on your phone, television, or laptop.
- Breaker Larger Tasks into Smaller Portions: Projects and papers can be really intimidating, especially if they are in a subject you do not enjoy or feel as confident about. To help ease the stress of a large assignment, break it down into pieces that feel manageable to you and are practical as well. If you are working on a paper, you could break the assignment down into graphic organizer, research, introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and so on. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by all that’s in front of you, resist the urge to give up entirely. Bite-size bits of work are way better than doing nothing.
While there are many suggestions and guidelines on how to be an effective steward of your time, I found the three mentioned above to be the most helpful and easy to apply. Make a plan, identify time-wasters, and break larger tasks into smaller portions. By incorporating this advice into your study habits, you truly can see a positive difference in not only the quality of the work you turn in, but the lessened amount of stress put on you.
These new habits will soon become like clockwork to you—just another normal part of your day.
About Ashley Silvey
Ashley Silvey is formerly part of the Recruitment, Admissions and Orientation team at Tri-County Technical College. She earned her Master's in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and her Bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a major in Linguistics and a minor in Education, from North Greenville University (NGU). She received a First Class Honor's Degree at NTU and graduated as an Honor's Scholar and Summa Cum Laude from NGU. From her love of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to her decades-long admiration for the winged vigilante, Batman, Ashley has always felt a pull toward characters who displayed both physical strength and strength of character. Ashley continues to write and podcast regularly, raising awareness of issues close to her heart like sex trafficking and empowering women to embrace their full identity as fierce and feminine Women Warriors.